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Hurricane Sandy: Heroes, Zeroes, and Belly-Full-of-Beeros

rescueHurricane Sandy brought 80 mile-per-hour winds, an unprecedented 13-foot storm surge to the New Jersey shore and to Manhattan, and a lot of outrageous behavior,  both positive and negative.

On the positive side, we first want to thank all the first responders, volunteers, and good Samaritans who worked so hard to save lives and keep everyone safe and warm. This world would be a far different -- and worse -- place without them, and we know it.

There are also a few people who have come to our attention by name -- either for their good deeds or the opposite. So here’s our list of the heroes, the zeroes, and the belly-full-of-beeros that make Hurricane Sandy memorable for more than the sheer belligerence of Mother Nature.

Heroes

The helicopter crew at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, particularly rescue swimmers Randy Haba and Daniel Todd. The two swam through 30 to 50 foot swells to pull 14 people out of life rafts and into metal baskets that were hoisted into a helicopter. Part of Todd’s job was to keep the  shipwreck survivors calm enough to get them out of the water quickly, as fierce winds were making the chopper gobble fuel. Todd’s introduction -- “Hey, I’m Dan, and I understand you guys need a ride” -- is one of the greatest understatements ever. The Coast Guard posted this gripping rescue video.

The nurses of Langone Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit, who evacuated 20 babies from the NICU after the New York hospital lost power. It took five of them to carry each baby, wrapped in a heating pad, down nine flights of stairs in the dark, all the while manually pumping bags of oxygen so each infant could keep breathing. There is no video of this one, for which I am grateful, because I don't think I could watch it.

Then there are heroes of a different order. We appreciate them too.

Arkansas Power Crews As New Jersey struggles to recuperate from Hurricane Sandy, the Arkansas power crews are getting raves. Not just for restoring power -- and that’s huge -- but for restringing the lines higher than they originally were, protecting them from some of branches that might hit them in the next storm. Even our city council, here in Montclair, N.J., which isn't happy about much right now, is raving about the Arkansas workers.

Chase Bank, on Third Avenue You wouldn’t think a bank would make a “heroes” list during a hurricane. But this particular Chase opened its doors to New Yorkers seeking bathrooms, heat, light, and a place to charge their phones and laptops. They even handed out free coffee and water at a time when some hotels reportedly had the gall to turn people away.

Whole Foods in Tribeca, which gave out perishables for free rather than holding a big sale.

The Ace and Four Seasons hotels in New York, for offering free Wi-Fi and showing kids’ movies during the storm and immediately after.

Zeroes

Electric Cities of Alabama These appear to be the geniuses that presented a utility crew from Decatur, Alabama with paperwork stating the crew would not be allowed to help restore power in New Jersey unless they first affiliated with their union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The IBEW restated its long-standing position that in times of crisis, it welcomes all workers, union or not. The Decatur crew ended up working on Long Island.

Mayor Bloomberg Sorry to say it, Mayor Mike, but you blew this one. It’s bad enough you didn’t cancel the marathon until so many of the would-be runners had traveled to the city. But even then, you only cancelled because of a public outcry over the resources needed to support the marathon. Couldn’t all those generators, mylar blankets, and energy bars have been used to help the power-less on the Lower East Side? Sure, they could. Instead, they sat unused in Central Park, near the marathon’s finish line.

Price-gougers How did the price of gasoline suddenly shoot up 50 cents a gallon? Need we say more?

Artur Davis, former Alabama Congressman After Hurricane Sandy hit, then Presidential-candidate Mitt Romney had the good sense to stop mocking Barack Obama for referencing “the rising oceans” and climate change. Artur Davis, speaking at a large Romney rally just after Sandy hit, didn’t get the hint. He said that while he didn’t know about rising oceans, Michael Bloomberg probably did. And yes, the crowd laughed.

Belly-Full-of-Beeros

A Pennsylvania woman jumped into a raging creek to try to ‘save’ some ducks from Hurricane Sandy. This while drunk, and with a four-year-old in tow. Luckily neighbors stopped the kid from going into the water, but it took eight firefighters to drag the woman out of neck-high waves.  On the other hand, Budweiser switched one of its production lines from beer to water to help with the relief effort. Now if only someone could do something about the snow. -- Kimberly Weisul

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Image of Hurricane Sandy as seen from the International Space Station courtesy of NASA, via wikimedia commons


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